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NEWS UPDATES 19 June 2010

Thai exports rose 42 percent above 2009

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Thailand's exports may grow by as much as 18 percent this year after May foreign sales grew at the fastest pace in 22 months.

"We may revise the country's export growth target from the current 14 percent to US$173 billion this year," Commerce Minister Porntiva Nakasai said yesterday. "But we need to see first how much June's figures are affected by the Greek debt crisis."

The minister is optimistic that June's export numbers are unlikely to change significantly from May's figures, making it possible for annual growth to hit 17-18 percent.

Thailand's exports rose for the seventh straight month in May, by 42.1 percent from a year earlier to US$16.56 billion.

The surge came despite bloody anti-government protests on the streets of Bangkok last month.

Exports rose in all sectors, with the agro-industrial sector rising 29.4% to $2.51 billion with good growth for tapioca, sugar and rubber, and the industrial sector soaring 47.4% to $11.51 billion driven by gold, which rose by 521.3% to $1.37 billion.

Exports increased in both traditional and new markets, rising by 35.2% and 47.3% respectively.

Imports climbed 55.1 percent to $14.34 billion in May, the sixth consecutive month of gains, as the economic recovery boosts demand for raw materials and consumer goods. The country reported a trade surplus of $2.21 billion, compared with a $266-million deficit in April.

In the first five months of the year, Thai exports amounted to $75.02 billion, up 34.5 percent year-on-year, while imports hit $70.97 billion, up 54.9 percent. The country enjoyed a trade surplus of $4.05 billion.

"The export performance so far is very good," she said. "The global economy has recovered, including the US, Japan, China and Southeast Asia."

Dusit Nontanakorn, chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, agreed the growth of Thai exports remained on course thanks to the economic recovery of the world and of Thailand's key trading partners.

He said that the country's exports in the second quarter could expand by at least 20 percent after 30 percent growth in the first quarter, before slowing in the third and fourth quarters as the base figures last year recovered after a deep contraction in the first half.

"Export growth of 17 percent this year is viable despite the risks of the European debt crisis, transport costs, and foreign exchange," he said.

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